Ag panelists herd water solutions to Telluride: Colorado Water Trust partners with Telluride Foundation

  • Colorado ranchers will be in Telluride on Tuesday for a panel on “Water, drought and the future of agriculture in the West.”

Colorado Water Trust and the Telluride Foundation are hosting the panel with four regional panelists and a moderator.

Panelist Marsha Daughenbaugh, from the Elk River Valley near Steamboat Springs, said people should be encouraged to attend the panel to hear what is happening in Colorado and in the Western Slope no matter what their expertise or experiences are with water and agriculture because the water crisis has an affect on everyone.

“People want to know, ‘What are the ranchers and farmers in our region talking about when they gather?’” Daughenbaugh said.

Daughenbaugh’s family has been ranching near Steamboat Springs for generations. Speaking from her home over the phone to the Daily Planet, Daughenbaugh said with a laugh that she feels as if she’s lived three lives that have entailed various aspects of water management and conservation: ranching, a 25-year career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency and 15 years of service as executive director of the Community Agriculture Alliance.

Her inspiration to engage with water issues is out of “necessity,” she said.

“Water has always been an important issue in these mountain communities to start with,” Daughenbaugh said. “As we feel the supply and demand changing, more people needing more water, and then you throw in some climate issues and then you do not have the supply — then you are at an imbalance.”

Bringing balance to the supply of water in the rivers is one of the priorities for the Colorado Water Trust.

“The panel will visit on the topic of what we wish people who are not connected to farming and ranching would understand when it comes to our role with water conservation,” Daughenbaugh said. “It’s such a huge topic, but why is it important to keep water in our rivers and keep it clean and cool?”

Joining Daughenbaugh for the panel will be Sajun Folsom, who has been ranching near Norwood for the last 10 years; Kathleen Curry, an owner of a ranching operation in Gunnison County; and Rob Lindner, who ranches near Pagosa Springs.

Kate Ryan, executive director of Colorado Water Trust and a water lawyer, will be moderating the panel.

“We look forward to sharing how agriculture and the environment can be natural partners, leading Colorado towards a sustainable future,” Ryan said in a statement shared with the Planet.

Daughenbaugh said oftentimes, ranchers and agriculturists are committed to their livelihoods on the lands and can’t make it to meetings, boards and events that happen during normal working hours.

“Agriculture perspectives are limited and we are being asked to serve on so many boards in our communities,” Daughenbaugh said. “They can’t take off in the middle of the day to go to town for a meeting. That just isn’t feasible. But their voices need to be heard.”

Telluride Foundation President Jason Corzine said the foundation is pleased to partner with the Colorado Water Trust “and we commend them for their pioneering solutions, working with ranchers and land managers to promote innovative practices in land management and demonstrating that agriculture can be part of the solution as we work through climate and water issues in our region.”

The “Water, drought and the future of agriculture in the West” panel is on Tuesday, Sept. 12  at Telluride Arts Gallery West, 224 W. Colorado Ave. in downtown Telluride. It starts at 5 p.m., and is expected to last for two hours.

Event organizers are asking people who are interested in attending and listening to the panel to please RSVP by visiting Eventbrite at or by visiting the Telluride Foundation’s home page at

“We would like people to know more,” Daughenbaugh said, including what’s happening with “significant ranch management practices to conserve water.”

Telluride Daily Planet
Author: Ashley Bunton, Associate Editor
Read the original Telluride Daily Planet article.